Club Spotlight: Injune

Across the best part of four decades, one family have led the country Queensland race club of Injune.

A once-a-year track these days, Injune - in Queensland's Downs racing region - has had a president with the last name of Loughnan and Chandler for a significant portion of their recent history.

Current Injune Race Club president Keith Chandler has been in the role for 18 years and his brother led the committee for seven years before that.

Before the current hierarchy led the Club, is was their grandfather on their mother's side, with the surname of Loughnan, that was the president for almost a decade.

Keith jokes that there is no one else interested to lead the Club's committee in the small town of Injune, which has a population of around 460.

While modest himself, there is no doubting the Loughnan and Chandler's influence on the industry in the region over the years.

"We have a fair tie to the Injune Race Club," Keith said.

"I am not sure exactly how we got involved in racing from the start all those years back but we all have been racing fanatics for as long as I can remember.

"My grandfather was and my parents were and once I came along, I got involved.

"I have lived here for much of life.

"I still love racing; I still get a kick out of it."

Nearing two decades in the president's chair, Keith says he is ready to step down from the top job and hand it over in the near future.

As Keith explains, he still loves the industry and gets a buzz out of being involved, and everyone around Injune will get that excitement back this weekend for the first time in three years.

Like many bush race clubs in the Sunshine State, the pandemic cancelled their non-TAB meeting last year.

In the case of Injune, they have gone more than two calendar years without racing, with 2019 a washout due to heavy rain in the region, with the track deemed unsafe to race on by stewards.

"It is pretty exciting because we have not had horses on the track for three years," Lyndal Nicol from the Injune Race Club said.

"Obviously last year COVID knocked us out and we were rained out the year before that.

"Everyone in the community is excited to get back to the races."

Nicol says the Chandlers and Loughnans are the go-to people within Injune for all the history around racing in the region.

The Club's program this Saturday is headlined by the 2021 Injune Cup, to be run over 1400 metres with a purse of $15,000 on offer.

Injune Race Club, which is known as Possum Park locally, has been redeveloped in recent years, with there likely to be more upgrades in the future.

"We have got a pretty good set-up, it is all quite modern, even," president Chandler said.

"The pavilion is not very old with the bar and betting arena all under cover.

"We have a grandstand that is a bit old and we will probably not do it up, we will look to extend the pavilion and get rid of the grandstand in the years to come.

"All the tie-up stalls are very good and with Racing Queensland's assistance, we have been able to build a tidy complex.

"Everything else is very good."

Injune races on a black soil surface, which the club's volunteer-led committee were busy going over late last week, towing mesh around the surface to break it up ahead of race day.

While they love their gallopers in Injune, it is also a massive social event for the small country town, bringing together people from different areas from around the region.

"We are well supported by Roma, which is nearby, and places like St George, Dalby, Charleville and Cunnamulla," president Chandler said.

Injune's Possum Park used to boast as many as three trainers but these days there is just Rod Cloherty, who has been training since 1995.

Cloherty has 24 winners to his name in his career and just has two or three horses in his barn over the last year.

He has not started one of those gallopers since September of last year, however.

Cloherty, who also doubles as the vice-president of the race club, has an outstanding record on his home track over the years, collecting three winners from just eight starters.

"He has been very committed to his racing over the years," President Chandler said of Cloherty.

Cloherty has not had a starter at the races for almost a year but will have stable newcomer Branlina in the Maiden Plate over 1000 metres this Saturday.

President Chandler, who has owned a few horses over the years, was hopeful of having a horse go around that he recently purchased from Sydney but doubts the new galloper will be ready in time for this Saturday.

Injune's Possum Park is a multi-functional venue that provides excellent facilities for Races, Campdrafting and Pony Club. 

According to the locals, Possum Park gets its name from the resident possum who lives in the ceiling and of course is nocturnal therefore has only been sighted by some late night revellers.

Racing and Sports